It is absolutely mind-boggling to think that graduation has already come and gone. It is even crazier to think that in a matter of hours I will be on my way to finally tour my future university. Thank you to everyone who has helped make this transitory celebration possible! Today I spoke in front of my home church about the lessons in love I have learned these last 18 years here.
For the past seventeen and a half years Avondale has been my home ….that is five minutes away from my actual home. I spent countless Sunday mornings here with bows in my hair, sitting on the floor in my mom’s Sunday school class. I have spent many a night here, not really sleeping, with our youth group. I have taken piano lessons right at this piano, in this room with Mr. Ted. I broke my arm in the fellowship hall and sported a so-not-attractive bright green up-to-my-shoulder cast. And of course, I have met my oldest and dearest friends here.
I learned all of the basics here. That is, God is always there, you just have to know how and where to look. I have learned that simplicity is key if you can manage it. A church family is just as good, if not sometimes better than, a blood family. And sometimes the only available means of transportation is a leap of faith.
Growing up at Avondale has given me so much, including the courage to take the kind of leap of faith that soon all of us graduates will be embarking on. All these things that I learned here at Avondale and in my family gave me the courage four years ago to go to Stanton and study in the IB program. But most importantly, Avondale has taught me how to create my own fool-proof safety net. For anyone who knows me personally, they know that the last month or so of my life has been absolutely chaotic. I sat through more than 18 IB, AP, and general school exams. My grandmother recovered from knee surgery only to then suffer a massive heart attack. My dad even took a little jaunt to the ICU. (That’s only to name a few crazy things.) But all of this insanity has brought to light how much we can rely on our church family and the friends that we’ve made here.
The bonds and relationships that I have formed here are my own little fool-proof safety net. Every member of this congregation is holding a little corner of that net, and they stand ready at any moment to catch me and help me to bounce right back up again so that I may, in turn, hold the net for someone else who needs it. Avondale is the truest form of the word “community”.
There are so many people in this church who have at one time or another dropped everything to help me or someone else that is sitting here. Avondale has taught me that you have to be willing to do just that (drop everything at times and support the people you truly love) in order to be a truly loving and Christ-like community. To quote the writer Victor Hugo. “To love another person is to see the face of God”, and here at Avondale I have learned to love and through that love I have learned how and where to look in order to see God at work. This church and this community are overflowing with love for all of its members. That is apparent to any guest or visitor who walks in, and surely it is crystal clear to my family now with all the love we’ve been shown recently.
So in that sense, Avondale has taught me how to be kind and supportive and loving… how to love others, and loving other people, deeply and unselfishly, is where God and true happiness can be found. And that, is the greatest thing that I should ever need in life. After all, love is all you need.